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Average regular gas price on LI drops below $2 a gallon

A man fills his car with regular at

A man fills his car with regular at a Citgo station on Old Route 25a in Rocky Point on Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Long Islanders are paying an average of less than $2 a gallon for regular gasoline for the first time in seven years, a motorist group reported.

The average cash price in Nassau and Suffolk slipped to $1.996 a gallon Friday morning, down from $2.004 on Thursday, AAA said.

The last time regular averaged under $2 was on Jan. 30, 2009, AAA said.

The price represents “a significant milestone,” said Robert Sinclair, AAA Northeast’s media relations manager.

With some seasonal roller coastering, gasoline prices have fallen steadily from a recent peak of $4.036 a gallon on July 2, 2014, largely a result of a worldwide glut of crude oil that developed from higher U.S. production of crude and a slowdown in demand from troubled economies in Asia and Europe.

Most forecasters — including the U.S. Department of Energy — expect crude oil and fuels to stay relatively cheap for the rest of this year.

The result has been a boost in disposable income for Long Islanders, who have struggled with stagnant wages in the wake of the steep recession that officially ended in 2009.

Sinclair said he thinks pump prices could go still lower this winter before a possible reversal of the trend in the spring with the arrival of more-expensive summer-blend gasoline at pumps and a pickup in demand as the weather warms.

The Long Island record average in the AAA’s gas survey is $4.346 a gallon, set on July 8, 2008.

The U.S. benchmark grade of crude oil was selling for $107.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at its recent peak on June 20, 2014 — just before Long Island’s gasoline peaked. Crude had slipped to a 12-year low of $26.05 Thursday.

But major crude producers, increasingly restive as their revenue tumble, appear to be seeking an agreement to reduce production to help shore up prices.

Crude oil futures soared by more than 12 percent in trading Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, following media reports that the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister had reiterated his belief that the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was willing to cooperate on an output cut. Crude settled up $3.23 Friday at $29.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Analysts quoted in reports about the news noted that several attempts in prior months to reach such an agreement had failed.

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